Friday, November 13, 2015

Empowering Women Enrtrepreneurs at CUA

Cross-posted on Business@CUA

By Guest Blogger: Julie Larkin CUA, Student Experience Manager , MSBA Graduate, and Founder of Girl Talk.

"Julie, what are you talking about? You just started a business!" I took a minute to ponder this, and then slowly allowed the realization to sink in.

I had just finished explaining to Stew McHie, the director of the Masters of Science in Business Analysis Program at Catholic University, how I had never pictured myself in business. I detailed my experiences studying psychology and working in Campus Ministry as a student minister. Surely my vocation was counseling or something that involved directly caring for others. I never imagined that my life would have anything to do with crunching numbers all day. (Little did I know what business as a "force for good" actually meant!)

I then went on to describe to him the program that I had started during my time as a student minister, called Girl Talk. This organization began in March 2012, after some jarring experiences with my freshmen female residents involving attempted suicide, sexual assault, heartbreak, and eating disorders. I heard story after story from these women of loneliness and their struggles with self-worth. No one will ever love me. She's way prettier than I am. I can't even look in the mirror I'm so ugly. Sound familiar? It broke my heart to hear them beating themselves up and doubting their self-worth to the point of self-harm. These women believed that they were the only ones who had ever felt like that, but they needed to know that they were not alone...Enter Girl Talk.

It took a lot of late nights of planning and crafting. My friends helped me design tons of cute invitations with glitter and bows, late nights of baking, music playlists and all sorts of prep in between. We gathered all my residents together for a fun night of hanging out in the lounge, devouring Red Velvet cupcakes, and most importantly, sharing stories. I shared with them the times that I felt ugly, heartbroken, and just simply not good enough. I shared how there were so many times that I felt inadequate, that my friends had felt this way too—that everyone struggles with their self-worth in some way! I reminded them that in fact, they were each beautiful, valuable, and loved. No matter what.

At the end of the night, the girls would not let me leave until I told them when our next Girl Talk would be. They were so hungry for this message! To know that someone they looked up to struggled as well. To know they were not alone. So we got together again and we talked about body image. Then we got together again and we talked about relationships. We kept getting together to share our personal stories and continue the conversation. The next year my fellow student ministers asked me if I could help them start Girl Talk in their residence halls, and by the end of the following year, Girl Talk existed in every female residence hall on Catholic University’s campus.

Back to Mr. Business. I finished explaining this whole history of Girl Talk, and then Professor McHie gave me a huge smile, and shared this little secret with me—I had inadvertently created a business without even realizing it! My passion for these women in helping them recognize their self-worth had fueled the flame for an organization that had the potential to reach women far and wide beyond my expectations! I may not have been looking to make a profit necessarily, but I still needed to understand the essential business principles of management, marketing, finance, and accounting in order for Girl Talk to grow and succeed. So how would I help women? 

Girl Talk Launch Party Invite
I went to Business School! After an accelerated nine-month program, I received my masters of science in business analysis (MSBA). I not only learned these invaluable, practical skills that complemented and enhanced my background of psychology and ministry, I found that I actually really enjoyed them. Business was a natural fit for me because it involved working with people, building relationships, and thinking creatively to solve problems. I am so grateful for that eye-opening conversation I had with Stew McHie. Thanks to him, I now have a business degree, am working in the School of Business and Economics as the Student Experience Manager, and am launchied my 501c3 non-profit, Girl Talk on November 13th . 

So many women will now have the opportunity to recognize their self-worth and become their best selves, thanks to this discovery of business as my vocation

I guess business really can be a force for good.

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